Aqueduct Cottage was originally built as a lengthsman’s and lock-keeper’s accommodation in c1802 by Peter Nightingale, servicing the Lea Wood Arm, sometimes known as the Nightingale Arm, of the canal to his factories and lead works at Lea Bridge and Lea Wharf. It is grade II listed and is in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and Borough of Amber Valley.
It was a condition of the construction of the Lea Wood Arm that the water level should be maintained at least 12” above that of the Cromford Canal to ensure that no water was taken from the Cromford Canal to supply the new Lea Wood Arm. To achieve this, it was necessary to have a stop-lock at the entrance to the arm. The operation of that lock would need to be supervised by a lockkeeper and this is most likely the reason for the construction of the cottage in this location.
Development of the Cottage
Initially the cottage was built as a single one up one down cottage. However, at some point a second one up one down cottage was added to the south east forming a pair of semi detached cottages, and then again at a later date the two cottages were combined to create one two bedroom cottage with a parlour and kitchen on the ground floor. A small side extension or scullery in the north east corner was probably added around the time of the addition of the second cottage and a wash house in the south east corner was probably also added around this time.
Once combined into a single two bedroom cottage the stairs were within the newer element of the cottage against the dividing wall to the original cottage, with access to the older bedroom through the new. Also the original front door to the original cottage was blocked up at lower level to form a window. The stone tiles from the original cottage roof were used to roof the whole of the front elevation, while the rear elevation is believed to have been slate tiled.
Aqueduct Cottage Today
The cottage is known to have been occupied from its completion date until 1968, although the Cromford Canal had ceased to be used some 24 years earlier. For a period it was used as a shelter by walkers before finally being gifted to the current owners, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT), in 2012, as part of the donation of the adjacent Lea Wood.
Thanks to support from the Friends of Aqueduct Cottage and the Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust, the cottage is currently under restoration and is expected to be open in 2021.